Asia Report: China Launches Renewable Energy Think Tank

China continues to take aggressive steps to secure itself as the leading manufacturing base for renewable energy. And it’s increasingly doing so with an eye on how that base can help it take a lead in project development as well.

Last week, China furthered that agenda on a couple of fronts. First, it established a national think tank that will focus on renewable energy programs and policies. According to China Daily, the China National Renewable Energy Center will also draft industry standards and carry out international cooperation programs.

“In China, developing policies and strategies for renewable energy is a complex task because government leaders have to weigh all aspects to ensure that it will benefit the entire country,” said Wang Zhongying, head of the center. “That is not to say that our government doesn’t have the courage to make policy. Rather, a strong think tank can provide solid research to support policymakers.”

Later in the week, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology posted a plan that called for certain polysilicon producers to reach 50,000 tons of annual production and for certain module makers to hit 5-GW scale. The intent is two-fold — to continue feeding into existing and developing markets while pushing to pump up its own solar capacity.


Distributed Wind on Rise in China: China is on track to have approximately 100 GW of installed wind power capacity connected to its power grid by 2015, including 23 GW installed capacity of distributed wind power projects. The National Energy Administration recently released development and construction guidelines for distributed wind in a move to drive and standardize projects to connect to the power grid.

China’s EV Market Gains Traction: The Chinese EV market is now transitioning from research and development to industrialization, and is expected to gain greater traction this year with the continued support from both central and local governments, according to an industry analyst.

A Tale of Two Cleantech Giants: China and India are the ideal markets in which to realize clean technology, both from their government’s stated goals and their economic, political and social needs.

Chinese Tier-2 Modules Offered Below $1/W: Prices for crystalline-silicon (c-Si) solar photovoltaic (PV) modules fell below the $1/W mark in January 2012, and in some cases well below even that, marking the first time that global average prices have fallen below this milestone, according to IMS Research.

Siemens Plans Massive Wind Investment: Siemens, the world’s largest maker of offshore wind turbines, said it underestimated the pace of growth in the Chinese wind market and will ramp up spending to catch up as local competitors increase their lead.


Two Large Wind Projects Planned in Thailand: Siemens Energy has received two major orders for a total of 90 wind turbines with a combined capacity of roughly 200 megawatts for two wind power plants, Korat 1 and Korat 2, in Nakorn Rachasrima Province in Northeastern Thailand.

India Calling: OnEarth takes a look at how solar power and its ability to power cell phones is opening up a new world in rural India.

Thailand Solar Farm: Sonnedix Group and First Solar have announced the completion of the Nakhon Ratchasima Solar Farm in the Khorat region of north eastern Thailand.

South Korea Delays Cap-and-Trade Vote: South Korea delayed approving a cap-and-trade system to cut carbon emissions, setting back efforts to regulate factories and power plants in the fastest-growing producer of greenhouse gases among industrial democracies.


Tapping India’s Future: Union Minister for Non-Conventional Energy Farooq Abdullah said it is time the country tapped non-conventional energy sources like solar and wind to meet its growing power needs.

Canadian Solar Looking to Japan?: Canadian Solar Inc plans to build a factory in Japan and is currently in negotiations with local governments in Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures, the Nikkei reported. The business daily said the facility, which is expected to have a capacity of 150 megawatts of solar panels a year, could go online as soon as the spring of 2013.

Will Seaweed be a Biofuel Solution: Researchers look to a type of brown seaweed commonly harvested in China, Japan and Korea as a potential biofuel source.


The Road Ahead: From Shaminder Singh Ragi, Alternative Energy, Globaldata     

“According to the 12th Five Year Plan, targets for installed capacity are expected to be set at 10 GW by 2015 and 50 GW by 2020. This 2015 target implies an annual growth of over 1000 percent. Under the plan, China is promoting the development of smaller-scale distributed solar projects in populated areas. This will attract private small and medium enterprises to the installation market, as large players will focus on bigger projects.”


Geothermal Challenges in Asia

“For Indonesia, [the biggest challenge] is regulatory stability.  Geothermal is hard to begin with.  There is no need to make it more complex by changing regulations when things start to look up.  Further, the lack of coordination among government ministries and other players creates needless complication.  For years we have had the situation where the Energy Ministry supported geothermal development and the Forestry Ministry refused to permit the projects to go ahead because of issues as to the forests as mapped.  Similarly, the Energy Ministry gave rosy predictions of how matters would be handled regarding payment of tariffs but Ministry of Finance took adverse positions and PLN was not consulted and rejected the structures put in place.  Coordination of the ministries is crucial, extremely weak and not really an area where the private sector has the ability to foster development.”
Edward McCartin, Senior Development Advisor at Alterra Power


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